In October 2011 surfboard manufacturer BASE abruptly closed its factory on the Gold Coast resulting in the direct loss of 50 jobs. A few days later, nearby D’Arcy Surfboards also announced it was shedding workers and downsizing from a state-of-the art purpose built factory into a backyard workshop. Each business exported surfboards internationally and employed some of Australia’s best known surfboard-makers. The troubles facing these workshops added to those brewing at the very same in Australia’s steel, aluminium, automotive and garment industries. With renewed public debate and media commentary on the future of manufacturing, we now face a crisis in ‘making things’ in Australia. To inform debate about this crisis, in this discussion paper we focus attention on one industry – surfboard-making – where Australia has had an international comparative advantage, and on which we have been doing extended, detailed qualitative and quantitative research for over three years. The question we seek to pose is: beyond the dollar what other factors play a role in shaping the economic fortunes of manufacturing industries?
ANZSRC / FoR Code
140211 Labour Economics, 140218 Urban and Regional Economics, 160401 Economic Geography, 160404 Urban and Regional Studies (excl. Planning)